I received my 15 demerits for the sideswipe in The Classification Yard tracks C-31 & C-32, soon after this bulletin came out:

CP Rail Bulletin B 37 80.
July 6, 1978
To: Retarder Operators At: Alyth

A sideswipe occurred recently at the east end of C-31 and C-32, and a tank car loaded with gasoline was rolled over on its side.

It is my considered opinion that the sideswipe was a direct result of a cut of 12 heavy cars being handled in the manual mode.

Instructions have been issued to you gentlemen on several occasions reminding you that the system is designed to handle single car cuts, and to make certain that only single car cuts are handled. The exception would be multiple cars of poles, etc.

I remind you also at this time that my instructions regarding humping LPG products must be strictly adhered to, i.e. speed cut down to one mile-per-hour, single car cuts only. Not to be humped on top of empty cars or empty cars humped on to LPG.

When you come to a cut of LPG products and the TYC has not cut the humping speed down to one mile-per-hour, it is your responsibility to stop the movement until the speed is cut down, as directed.

H.E. McAfee

NOTE When bulletin is telegraphed operators must make extra copies as required. Conductors and Engineers and others concerned must sign in acknowledgment. Bulletins no longer in effect are to be sent to the Superintendent and Master Mechanic, respectively.

CC: N. Nickiford
G. Mikkelsen
G. Seright
A. Wirachowski
*L. Buchan
D. Smith

I carried on that summer working the retarder operator’s annual vacation vacancies. I saw some interesting things. When I was training Gordon Mikkelsen warned me about leaving the group retarder’s off when you started humping, while if you left the master retarders in the off position, you could not get a hump signal, but with the groups off you could. I thought to myself, this would be hard to do, but sure enough one night shift when we started humping I watched a loaded tank car of sulfur go sailing out of group two, at a very high rate of speed smashing into the stationary cars in the track it was destined to, I had left all the group retarders off, which I quickly rectified.

Another interesting incident I had was working day shift, the CPR handled a lot of lumber traffic from British Columbia, a lot of it on flat cars, the best flat cars had bulkheaded ends that help avoid shifted loads, but ordinary flat cars were still used a lot. They were equipped with pockets along their sides for stowing chains that were wrapped around the bundles of lumber when they were loaded. One day a flat car of lumber came off of the hump heading through group 3 retarder for C-23. I watched in amazement as it entered the group retarder one of its securing chains must have broken off and was dangling along the side of the car as it entered the group retarder the chain got caught up in between the car wheels and the retarder shoes and stopped the car of lumber dead in its tracks, with this sudden stop from the car going 12 miles an hour all the wood unloaded all over the tracks.

One day I came to work and to my surprise Group 3 was out of service, evidently on the day shift a car came up to the crest of the hump and a hump stop alarm came up. Cars listed in the hump files have codes to bring attention to certain conditions, like LPG will alert you that a reduced speed must be adhered to. Other codes are for special cars that cannot be run over the hump. An example would be cars of dynamite and other explosives. On day shift, a car came up with a stop code, the TYC Toby Frewin tried to get a hold of the retarder operator, but had no luck, he asked the hump crew, what was on the car, and they told him that it was a maintenance of way crane mounted on a flat car. Toby being impatient told them to let the car go, which they did. What they didn’t know was that the car had been modified with compartments of steel filled with ballast to keep the crane stable when it was operating. The problem that arose was that it created a restricted clearance, the master and group retarders have steel castings called chairs that are pushed by air cylinders to squeeze the cars wheels when they enter the retarder’s. The crane, with its modifications underneath would not clear the chairs and it damaged all of them in the master retarder and in group 3. They were able to use some spare ones and sent some of them to Ogden to be welded. But they did not have enough for group 3, so it was out of service for a few weeks until replacements came from the manufacturer in the United States. No discipline was assessed.

One other interesting incident happened that summer, where the hump units came off the shop track to go towards the tunnel underneath the hump to go towards P & V yards or two backup into little N yard. There was an automatic hand throw switch (these automatic switches could be trailed through with cars or locomotives and would automatically line themselves without any damage to the switch points or mechanism or be thrown by hand), to go through the tunnel on both side’s was a dwarf signal that would control movements, all you had to do was move your engine or engine with cars attached close to the signal where the bond would be activated and after a timeout of about two minutes, you would receive a restricted signal (yellow as opposed to the red which would be displayed normally). On this day, somebody had gone westward through the tunnel leaving the automatic hand throw switch in the reverse position lined for the hump shop track, on the west side of the tunnel was the 16:00 Stock engine with some auto carrier cars loaded with brand-new pickup trucks. They stopped at the signal and waited for it to timeout, which it did, then they shoved eastward through the tunnel at a fairly fast speed to maintain momentum to climb up the hill on the east side to go towards little N yard, the foreman Bob Fulton and his helper were riding on the point of the movement and when they emerged from the tunnel, they went towards the hump shop track, at the same time, the 14:30 Hump assignment was moving westward on the shop track to go for their coffee break, the helper Tommy Arnott was riding on the steps of the lead hump locomotive CP 8634. They were just about at the west end of the shop track when the 16:00 Stock movement emerged from the tunnel. The crew did not notice that the switch was lined for the shop track in time to stop the movement, and the inevitable happened. Tommy, a large, easy going, portly man, seeing the impending collision ran for it, people watching, said that they never seen Tommy move that fast in his life. The automobile carriers hit the stationary hump units and derailed, continuing into an auxiliary storage building that was demolished alongside many of the brand-new pickup trucks that were total write-offs. Bob Fulton and his helper were able to jump off and escape injury. After this incident, the signal maintainers rewired the circuits so that if a westbound movement wanted to go through the tunnel if the shop track switch was in the reverse position, they would not be able to get a signal. A bulletin also came out to notify the hump crews that any movement using the shop track switch “that the automatic switch would have to be manually restored to the normal position,”

Another interesting thing that would happen was that with humping extra long cars like auto carriers, and double piggyback flat cars, the computer thought that the car was clear in the destination track, and the automatically controlled switch in the bowl of the class yard would line up for the next car, so the lead wheels of these extra long cars would be going down one track, and the trailing wheels would be going down another track. It took the technicians in the computer room quite a while to solve this operating problem.

The summer was passing by quickly, and I did some soul-searching thinking about what I wanted to do next. In my railway career. The holiday vacancies I was working would soon be over and I was facing working another winter outside at the Alyth yard.

I read a book called Inside the Third Reich, the memoirs of Albert Speer, and Adolf Hitler’s Architect, and Minister of Armaments; in it he quoted the following;


The course of a railway train is uniquely prescribed for it at most points of its journey by the rails on which it runs. Here and there, however, it comes to a junction at which alternative courses are open to it, and it may be turned on to one or the other by the quite negligible expenditure of energy involved in moving the points.
Sir James Jeans

My career had definitely come to a “junction” so I made a decision to bid for an opportunity to train as a locomotive engineer

CP Rail Internal Correspondence.
Date October 13, 1978 File No. 010.864

From: M.M. Stroick

Seniority No.
Two Messrs. W.J. Avery Trainman Alyth 600
Dennis Sanford “ 601
R.J. Schmick “ 603
F.W. Porter “ 529
R.S. Ferguson “ 531
L.S. Buchan “ 595
A.T. Kuzmicz “ 602
E. Kinch 613
J.C. McFarlane 632
V. Sangster 636
B. Materi 647
L.J. Kosar 692

This is to inform you that your application for the Engineman Training Program.
Has been accepted. You will be required to have a further medical examination.
and have an “A” Book written before commencement of training.

Training will commence in Calgary on November 16, 1978

M.M. Stroick
Calgary Division.

When it came time to start training Ron Schmick had resigned from the company and Emile Kinch withdrew his bid, so Bruce T Hatton, Bill Todd, and Stan Zimmer were added to our class.

I wrote a letter to the GYM asking him to protect my car retarder operator’s seniority:

November 10, 1978

Mr. H. E. McAfee
General Yard Master.
CP Rail, Alyth Yard.
Calgary, Alberta

Mr. McAfee:

This letter is further to our recent conversation concerning my request for a six-month leave of absence from my position as a relief car retarder operator.

The reason I am requesting this leave of absence is, I have been accepted for the Enginemen’s Training Program, and I am to begin training on November 16, 1978. In the event that through some unforeseeable circumstances, I am not able to continue in this program, I would like to retain my seniority as a Car Retarder Operator.

Your assistance in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely yours,

L.S. Buchan
Relief Car Retarder Operator.

I worked my last shift as a Car Retarder Operator on an afternoon shift Saturday, October 28th, 1978; I was paid $71.05, or $8.88 per hour. The change of Timecard took place on the Sunday, and I went into road service as a head end brakeman, assigned to Car No. 4 with a crew. My Conductor was Stan McCormick, and the tail end brakeman was George Wiberg. I made my first road trip on Tuesday, October 31, 1978 going north to Red Deer on Train No. 77, called for 20:15. My locomotive engineer was Joe Fedor, and we had CP 5853, as a leading locomotive and 93 cars of freight, my conductor this trip was Don Colson, as my regular conductor had booked off, we arrived at Red Deer 03:00. The next day on November 1, we were called at 16:00 for No. 988 a Grain Pick up train that would have lots of work to do, lifting loaded grain cars from the elevator tracks between Red Deer and Balzac, Alberta. For head end power we had CP 5852, we did all the work and were off-duty at Alyth at 23:10. The running miles on the Red Deer Subdivision are 93.5 miles. I made 146 miles at freight rates on the northward trip, and earned $62.69. And 125 miles at way freight rates on the southward trip, and earned $55.36, total time on duty. 13 hours, and 55 minutes that worked out to being paid $8.50 per hour.

At the time, road crews in freight service out of Calgary worked both the Red Deer Subdivision and the Laggan Subdivision west to Field, British Columbia with 136.5 running miles. I had a day off and on November 3 I was called at 04:30 for train No. 965, we had 91 cars of freight, the Locomotive Engineer was Mike Pasternak, and we had the CP 5789 as our lead unit and were off-duty at Field at 12:55. After a few hours rest, we were called at 19:00 for train No. 902 a hotshot freight was 71 cars, we were back at Alyth and off-duty at 00:30 only gone 20 hours with six hours rest between trips. For the trip westward, I made 178 miles, and was paid $76.64, for the trip eastward, I made 165 miles, and was paid $70.83 this worked out to being paid $10.53 per hour.

CP 5789 was built by General Motors Diesel, a SD-40-2. Date Outshopped June 30, 1978 and added to CPR’s diesel fleet on the same day. It was classed as a DRF-30r (Diesel Road Freight 3000 hp r the last of the order from 5779) Footnote 113: Units 5779 to 5789 and 5860 to 5864 owned by Ontario Hydro. They were purchased to haul coal from McGillivray, BC, to Thunder Bay, Ont. Locomotive consists are four head-end units with two robot-controlled units from McGillivray to Dunmore, Alberta. The units operate in a common pool with the other CP SD-40-2. An additional Robot car was built by CP in 1978 for this service. Units 5860 to 5864 are equipped with both Locotrol Master and Pacesetter Master equipment.

I had two days off and was called on November 7 for a double Bearspaw Turn for 23:15, on the Laggan Subdivision, turnaround service is when you are called to go to an intermediate point on the subdivision Bearspaw was the siding at mile 14, at Keith mile 9.6, the CPR had a large storage yard, and that was our destination, there was also a large gravel pit between Keith and Bearspaw where they could load ballast into hopper cars for track maintenance. Keith yard had 3 storage tracks on the south side of the yard that were called, KS 1, KS 2, and KS 3, and were used for storing maintenance of way crew boarding cars. On the north side there were three long tracks that would store over 120 cars, they were numbered Keith 1, 2, and were used mostly for storing grain and potash to relieve congestion at Alyth yard. Keith 3 was always kept clear, so it can be used as a siding. On the West end of Keith yard there were six smaller tracks numbered Keith 4 to 10, they were used to store cars for the No.2 Switcher assignment, the Exshaw Switcher and other cars of grain and potash. We had the CP 86384, a leading locomotive and the Locomotive Engineer was George Carra we had 51 cars going out on our first turn and 130 cars on our second turn. We were off-duty 08:45 so I was on duty nine hours and 30 minutes and made 212 miles, and was paid $90.92, making $9.49 an hour.

On November 9. I was called for a north trip at 10:45, the train was No. 987 with lead locomotive CP 5726, once again with Locomotive Engineer Joe Fedor we had 79 cars and we arrived at Red Deer and were off-duty at 17:00. After five hours rest, we were called for a southbound at 22:00; the train was 2nd No. 86 and were back at Alyth at 03:50. I made 141 miles going up and 138 miles returning, and earned $119.07, which worked out to be $10.82 per hour.

November 11. I was called at 11:00 for train No. 987, again, this time with Joe Cassidy as the Conductor and I worked as the tail end brakeman, we had locomotive CP 5849 as our leading locomotive and Don Towle as the Locomotive Engineer with 89 cars, we arrived at Red Deer and were off-duty at 16:20, we were called for our southbound trip at 01:40 for train No. 78, with locomotive CP 5781, we arrived Alyth and were off-duty 11:40. I made 132 miles going up and 147 miles on the return trip and was paid $121.96 being on duty, making $9.91 per hour.

On November 13 my day off between trips I had to go to see a CPR Doctor for my medical that was required before I could enter the Enginemen’s Training Program, for taking this examination I was paid 38 miles that added up to $16.25.

On November 14 I was called at 02:00 for train No. 605, a robot train of sulfur with lead locomotive CP 5846 and Locomotive Engineer Norm Tedesco, it took us two hours to put the train together, and we left Alyth at 04:00, and arrived Field BC at 13:30, we stayed there until 17:45, when we are called to deadhead on Train No. 902, arriving back at Alyth and off-duty at 22:00. This was my last trip on through freight until November 1979.

The Enginemen’s Training Program.

On Thursday, November 16, 1978, I attended my first class in the Enginemen’s Training Program; our classroom was an old baggage coach that had been converted for that purpose. Coach No. 54, was spotted on the east end of Depot 3 at the Calgary station, it had middle aisle with double desks down each side, and a desk and blackboard for the instructor, it was painted in Tuscan red, there were lots of mechanical charts on the walls, and a locomotive engineers controls set up as a simulator. Our classes started at 09:00 with a half hour lunch break, and we got out at 15:30. For the next 14 days until November 30, we had extensive instruction on the Uniform Code of Operating Rules Revision of 1962. Our Rules Instructor was Lloyd Snowdon a Locomotive Engineer from Kamloops, British Columbia, Lloyd was a true gentleman and a scholar, after five years of having rules instructors that were from the Train Dispatching Offices, it was good for all of us to have a teacher who looked at the rules from a Locomotive Engineers point of view. After the two weeks of extensive training we had to write an examination and were required to make 90% for a mark in order to continue on in the program. The good instruction we had paid off as nobody in our class failed.

On December 1, 1978, we started seven days of classes on Mechanical Rules, our instructors were Des Deroche a Locomotive Engineer from Vancouver, British Columbia, and Alf Strickland a Mechanical Supervisor from the Vancouver Diesel Shops, with classes that covered. CPR Form 582 Rules for the Operation, Maintenance, Inspection and Testing of Air Brake and Communicating Signal Equipment on Motive Power, Cars and Work Equipment and CPR Form 583 Train Handling and Other Instructions Relating to Brake and Communicating Signal Equipment lubrication, water cooling, and other subjects pertaining to the mechanics of CPR’s diesel locomotives. On completion of the Mechanical Rules on December 6, 1978, we went on to the next stage of our training.

Starting on December 8th, we went training on yard engine assignments. There were over 60 jobs in Calgary terminal covering three shifts, so there was no shortage of one’s to pick from. I started out on one of the afternoon assignment’s the 14:30, Hump working with Pete Laing, our consist had the 8634-4462-8412. The 8634, a GMD Class GP9 was outshopped October 30, 1956, and added to the CPR roster the same day, classed by the CPR as a DRS-17c (Diesel Road Switcher, 1700 Hp subclass c the last of the order, starting with 8611. 4462, a GMD class F7B outshopped February 28, 1953 and added to the CPR’s roster the same date classed as a DFB-15e (Diesel Freight B unit 1500 Hp subclass e) 8412, a GMD Class GP7R was outshopped on January 19, 1953, and added to the CPR’s fleet of locomotives, the same day classed as a DRS-15d (Diesel Road Switcher 1500 Hp first of subclass d) 8634 along with 8633 and 8635 had gone to Ogden shops for modification, there the electronics were modified adding hump controls, cab signals, short hood chopped to low nose configuration for hump service. Units outshopped from Ogden as follows:

8633 -. March 12th 1971.
8634 -. May 20th 1971.
8635 – December 3rd 1970

So Pete sat on the other side of the cab in the fireman’s seat and let me take over the controls, we were starting out by bringing a train in P-yard to the hump. The helper on the assignment radioed me to pull down to the dwarf signal to time it out so we could get a signal to go to through the tunnel to the west side of the yard, after we got a signal we went through the tunnel. I traveled through the rubber switch (a nickname of modern raycor track switches that can be trailed through with the locomotive without damaging the switch.) I had to pull down three unit lengths and stop so the helper could line the switch towards a V-yard track as a safety feature, and prevented a runaway car from going down towards the tunnel where there was vehicular traffic. Pete gave me a pointer, there was a telephone pole along the yard lead and if you stop the lead locomotive’s bay window even with the telephone pole was the exact location to clear the switch so the helper had jump off the trailing footboard and lined it back. We tied our train in P-6, and I called the pusher crew and asked them if they were ready for a stretch in P-6. The pusher crew were tied on and had taken off all the handbrakes that had secured the train in the yard track and they were ready, I slowly applied power from throttle 1 to 3 gradually stretching out the slack on the train, the pusher radioed us that they were moving, I then went to the open yard channel and called the operator at 12th Street E. tower telling him that the hump was ready to come out of P-6, he replied to keep coming and he lined the crossovers from P-yard to Hump lead 1, I returned the radio to the hump frequency, then opened up the throttle to the 8th notch to pull the train out of P yard and on to the hump lead, with our three units, and 4700 hp, it did not take me long to reach a speed of 15 miles an hour I was able to easily pull out the train. At times, if the train was really heavy, or under bad weather conditions, the pusher engine could assist. Approaching the top end of hump lead-1, there was a dwarf interlocking signal displaying green that told me I was good to cross 8th Street SE, and that the next signal west side of the Elbow River bridge would be permissive, and it displayed yellow, I would have to be prepared to stop. The pusher called us on the radio saying we had 30 cars to go, then 20 and 10 cars than to stop this I did shutting off the throttle and using the locomotives independent brakes, with a really long train sometimes I would be at the west end of the IYO. After coming to a stop the pusher radioed us telling us that we were lined up and it was okay to precede eastward 50 car lengths. I put the engine reverser handle into the reverse position, and opened up the throttle to get the train moving eastward, as the whole yard sloped to the east, it didn’t take much to get the train rolling, and I then shut off the throttle and use the independent locomotive brake to control our speed. The pusher kept radioing me, telling me how many cars we could go, and that the switch point derail was lined for us (there were two switch point derail’s one off of hump lead one, the other off hump lead two is a safety feature to prevent side swiping another movement if was coming down the hump lead) the pusher told me that the 08:00 hump still had about 10 cars left on their train, there was a stop sign just west of the ascending crest of the hill where the pusher had me stop. The other hump assignments was finished, the pusher engine cut off and went to the crest of the hill to get instructions from the TYC on where they would go next, usually out of the class yard through C-1, or C-48, depending on where the next train to hump is located.

With the train stopped Pete showed me what to do next, there was an electrical cabinet behind me on the wall of the engine behind me, he opened up the door and showed me a large electrical switch that was in the down position, he placed in an the up position, this placed control of the hump locomotives to the computer in the control tower, by the front window to the left hand side was a box with cab signals, they were lit from behind and would show the different modes that the hump was set into. From top to bottom. It read “Hump Fast” “Hump Slow” “Dead Slow” “Stop” “Speed” “1.75 mph” Other features of the counsel on the hump locomotive was a small box mounted above the control stand pedestal. It had four pushbuttons and the speedometer that read from 0 to 2 miles per hour. Pushbutton 1, on the top left side would place the controls in the “Tower Automatic” below it. Pushbutton 2 was the “Automatic – Manual”. Pushbutton 3, on the top right-hand side was the “On Board Automatic” and Pushbutton 4 was the “Speed Selection” Other Features was a Air Booster Gauge that worked in conjunction with a small console of Air Booster buttons that read; 18 pounds, 12 pounds, 6 pounds and Release, these were used to fine-tune the speed of the hump engines when in the Automatic Hump Mode. When ready to hump release the Air Booster button, Put. Pushbutton No. 2 into the Automatic Throttle position, and put the Throttle in the No. 1 position, and release the Independent Brake Handle. If necessary to go to Manual Humping leave Pushbutton No. 2 in Automatic, and Set Speed with. Pushbutton No. 4 and use Pushbutton No. 3 to start Manual Humping.

On December 10, 1978. I worked the 15:30 N. Industrial with CPR 6717. It was built by General Motors Diesel Division and was outshoped to the CPR on March 23, 1955, and was classed as a DS-9a (Diesel Switcher 900 hp Series a). The locomotive engineer was Bill Dixon, who I had worked with before on the ground as a switchman, we came off the shop track at the Industrial Yard Office, and we switched out our caboose, and crossed over to “I yard” to switch out the cars we needed for the territory, we kicked their caboose up the lead and went into track “I-3” to get the cars we needed for Meridian Park industrial area, these 6700 locomotives were different from the hump. Units. I had ran earlier, they did not have a notched throttle, it was different to operate for a small locomotive. It had lots of pep, and with its cast-iron brake shoes one had to be careful not to skid them. With our cars altogether, and a brake test done by the Carmen, we were ready to leave northward to our territory, off of the Red Deer Subdivision. We did our required switching spotting the loads to the customers, and picking up the empty cars to bring back to the Industrial Yard where we shoved them into track F-2 the preference track were all empty cars were placed and when three tracks were filled, they were transferred down to Alyth for the hump, any loaded cars were set over EX lead, next to the shop track, and would be taken to Alyth SAP

On December 11, 1978, I went to the Alyth Diesel Shop for a four hour class on Steam Generators our instructor was Diesel Shop Foreman Don Hoare. The CPR used Vapor Clarkson Steam Generators to heat their passenger trains. The Steam Generator OK 4625, was the one we learned about as it was most used on the CPR. They were many valves on the steam generators, and were marked with brass tags. Valves designated by odd numbers are fitted with cross style handles, and must be in the OPEN position during normal operation of the steam generator, valves designated by even numbers are fitted with standard round handles and must be CLOSED during normal operation

On December 12, 1978, I worked the 16:00 “A” Pulldown with locomotive 8113 with locomotive engine Sandy Young; this was the first time I ran one of these locomotives. They were classed by the CPR as a DRS-12a and was outshopped by the CPR on August 8, 1958, these were very versatile locomotives and could be used in both yard, and freight service on the road. While most of the EMD locomotives and yard service were 900 hp, these locomotives had 1200 horsepower, this assignment worked out of Alyth, and we would switch out cabooses from the caboose track and put them on boat going trains, we would also pick up incoming cabooses, and take them to be caboose track so they could be serviced for their next trip. We would also look after the One Spot Car Repair Shop that had four repair tracks, on the east end, we would take bad order cars out of V-9 that ran along beside the shop, and we would fill up the for tracks, at times, we would be listed to pull the repaired cars out of the west end of the building, and put them in a track for humping.

On December 13, 1978, I worked the 15:30 S. Industrial with locomotive 6715, the locomotive engineer was once again Bill Dixon. The yard foreman was John MacLachlan and I remember we were switching cars in “F” yard, Bill had poured himself a cup of coffee from his service and was standing by the doorway talking to me, we made a rough coupling and Bill got coffee all over himself, but was not burned, he just laughed it off. This job went out South, on the Manchester Lead, to the end of track where Heritage Drive, and Deerfoot Meadows is now located, at that time the Cominco Fertilizer Plant was located to the south of Heritage Drive, it was built during World War II and its products were used for the war industry, we would spend the shift switching out covered hoppers of fertilizer, and spot up empty hoppers for loading. There was also a loading rack with scales were Ammonia was loaded into large tank cars, we would weigh the cars, and spot them up with empty tanks, we then would return to Alyth, and ask the Train Yard Coordinator where he wanted the loads from Cominco, he would give us a track in P or V yard where we would drop the cars into, leaving our caboose on the lead, we would then couple of to the caboose and ask the operator at 12 Street E. For a line up into the East end of F yard where we would kick our caboose into the caboose track, and put our locomotive on the shop track, and call it a day.

On December 14, 1978, I worked the 16:00 Hump with locomotives 8634-4462-8421 and Vic Currie was the locomotive engineer, the shift was much like the earlier trip I made with Pete Laing, one thing I do remember was that we had quite a long train, and it was starting to get dark, our head end was passed the Industrial Yard Office, and something looked funny as there was a signal that we could not see, it turned out to be a truck backed up into the freight sheds and was obscuring our view, and route I gave a couple of blasts on the locomotive whistle, and the trucker moved out of our way.

On December 18, 1978, I worked the 08:00 “A” Pulldown with the same locomotive I had working with Sandy Young on the afternoon “A” Pulldown the 8113, I was with locomotive engineer Stan McPhedren, whom I really liked from all the times we worked together when I was a brakeman on the Zone 3 Wayfreight in 1974-75. He was the first locomotive engineer that let me run the locomotives on the Acme subdivision.

On December 19, 1978, I worked the 09:00 Gulf Oil assignment with locomotive 8115 . Another DRS-12a that was outshoped on August 28, 1958. This locomotive became one of my favorites over the years I worked yard assignments. The locomotive engineer was Bruce Hatton, whose son, Bruce was in my class, his other son Bryan took the engineers training later. This assignment that started out of the GY0 would tramp around the yard switching piggybacks, taking bad order cars off of trains and other chores. After lunch (Beans). We would get a list for switching out The Gulf Oil Refinery in the Inglewood District, we would get the tank cars, we needed to spot out of the classification yard, we would then go behind the Pulldown Tower to the CNR interchange tracks, and find a clear track to run out onto mainline, this line was originally the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway route into Calgary, it ran down to where Fort Calgary use now, and the St. Louis Hotel was built East of Calgary City Hall to accommodate the passengers. The track now ended just past the refinery, where there was a concrete plant that was looked after by the CNR, we would go into the refinery, and pull out all the empty tank cars that had been unloaded, we would then spot them up with loads we had brought from the class yard, there was also a storage track outside the refineries gates, where we would leave cars to hold, and dig out cars for spotting.

On December 20, 1978, I worked the 07:30 N. Industrial with locomotive 8101. The locomotive engineer was Charlie Floyd, who was a very tall man, and was nicknamed “high pockets” we came off the shop track and switched out our caboose, we then crossed over to the east end of “I” yard, and we would kick our caboose up the lead, switch out the cars we needed from I-3 and couple them up to our caboose. We then waited for the Carmen to couple up all the air hoses and give us a brake test. With this completed, we would contact the operator at 12 Street E. and ask for a line up straight north, we would then go around the Wye by the Calgary brewery and stop at Bengal a register station to make sure that all the first class passenger trains had arrived and left, we would then go by signal indication north to Mile 2 of the Red Deer Subdivision, there was a switch there and we would pull our 10 cars and caboose by, the crew would line the switch and we would proceed southeast through a tunnel underneath Deerfoot Trail, when we emerged from the tunnel we had about 15 cars to a switch point derail that had to be lined normal for us to get by, this was a safety feature as the grades in the Mayland Heights Industrial territory were over 2.2% in places, and if a car or yard movement ever ran away this safeguard would let the cars run into the ditch, rather than out onto the mainline where there could be a catastrophe if a passenger train or freight train was coming down the track. Our assignment was to look after all the customers spurs above M-32, this would take us eastward over Barlow trail where there was another switch point derail that would have to be lined, we would then start looking after the customers M-49 was a Swift’s feeds mill, and M-54, was a Crown Zellerbach lumber yard, just past there was a team track, with an unloading platform, where cars of machinery would be spotted, and the customer would look after unloading them. Further down was M-78 a Co-Op Grocery warehouse, the track that was running northward then made a curve and ran south words towards M-96 the Hudson Bay’s warehouse, M-97 Simpson Sears furniture warehouse, and M-98, Alberta Brewers Agents, where we would spot up cars of beer from the Lethbridge Brewery. Once again, we would spot up all our customers and lift all the empties to take back to the IYO.

On December 21, 1978. I worked the 07:30 S. Industrial assignment with locomotive 6716. Barney Martin was the locomotive engineer. Once again, we came of the shop track switch to our caboose, and crossed over to the east end of “I” yard and kicked their caboose up the lead, we then went into track I-2 to get out our cars for the Manchester industrial territory. With this done, we would get a brake test, then we would ask the operator at 12th Street E. to give us a lineup from the east end of I yard down P-1 past 12th Street tower and line us south down the Manchester lead. It ran on the south side of the MacLeod Subdivision mainline. We would stop our train clear of the crossing beside the Shamrock Hotel we would then walk over to the Shamrock Grill for a coffee break. We would then shove southward down the Manchester lead to 42nd Avenue, this is where J lead splits up if you follow it, you end up down at Cominco, but at the bottom of the Hill, just across 42nd Avenue there is a switch that takes you to the Manchester Industrial Park where there are for leads Ja, Jb, Jc, and Jd that had dozens of warehouses, lumber yards, steel plants, battery manufacturer, newsprint, and paper goods warehouses, and cement plants. There were a lot of conventional derails in this territory that you had to watch out for. Below Ja lead was a runaround track that would hold 30 cars, this was handy to get on the other end of our cars for the customers who spurs ran northward, there was a large Triangle Steel yard that would get cars of steel, there was also a couple of other industries located there, alongside the runaround was what they called builders road, and they had an XL Brick yard, and several lumber yards for house construction, Jb lead had more warehouses to service, and Jc lead had a Crane Plumbing Supply spur that got carloads of pipe, pipe fittings, and porcelain toilet fixtures. There was also an Exide car battery factory, and a McMillan and Bloedel paper products warehouse, this was the only lead that crossed over 58th Avenue where there was a large, Ovenmeyer warehouse at one time the lead ran further south and connected with a lead that ran off the MacLeod Subdivision, another customer was LaGrande Oil Well supplies, and there was a team track with unloading platform. The final lead was Jd that serviced Sovereign Castings a smelter where they made cast-iron products like manhole covers; they would get carloads of coke for their smelter. Next was Jd-4, the Inland Cement Company there spur would only hold four cars, and when there was a building boom in Calgary during the 1970s, they would be spotted up three times a day. With all the customers looked after we would gather up all our empties and return to Alyth and back to the Industrial Yard Office, where we would put our cars into the preference track in F-yard and turn in for the day.

On December 22, 1978. I worked the 09:30 Imperial Oil assignment with locomotive 8692, a General Motors Diesel GP9r (GP called Jeeps were General Purpose diesel locomotives.) It was outshoped to the CPR on September 26, 1957 and was classed as a DRS-17d a Diesel Road Switcher my locomotive engine instructor was Harold Sangster. Harold was a small man but tenacious, he must have been hiring on as a wiper September 13, 1941, and promoted to fireman the same day, it would be hard work, hand firing coal into the firebox’s older steam locomotives. During World War II. Harold joined the Navy and was a stoker; he was quite high on the seniority list No. 56 in Alberta out of a total of 236 locomotive engineers. Unfortunately for Harold, he had some heart problems in 1960’s, and was restricted to yard service, I have attached a newspaper photo of him as the fireman on the first Royal Hudson 2833, converted to oil burning in the 1940s. He was a great guy to work with, this assignment started at the Alyth Diesel Shops, locomotive engineer were paid for 15 minutes before their shift started, and 15 minutes at the end of their shift for final inspection, this gave them time to read the bulletin books, check their pocket watch, and inspect the locomotive before leaving shop track. Harold was very thorough and he showed me how to do proper initial inspection of our 8692, inside the cab we checked the flagging kit, and if we had a spare air hose, and the yellow wrench to change out a burst air hose, and if we had drinking water, and a broom and shovel as it was winter and track switches and fill in with snow. We then went outside to do a visual inspection, before leaving the cab we turned on the sanders switch, this way when we walked around the locomotive. We could check on the rails whether the sanders were working properly, we would also check the running gear on each side making sure that all the brake shoes were in place and working. We would then walk down the running board, releasing the handbrake, and open up one of the hatch doors, where we could check if we had sufficient water for the cooling system, check that the governor had a proper oil level, and check the site glasses on the fuel filters to make sure they were not plugged, if we found any defects, or lack of supplies, we would call the Diesel Shops Planner and have the problem fixed. We would then leave the shop track, testing our radio to make sure it was functioning okay, we would then pick up our crew at the yardmen’s parking lot. From there, we would go to the classification yard to dig out the cars we needed to spot at the Imperial Oil’s loading racks. The old Imperial Oil had been closed and torn down around 1976. They built a storage facility with storage tanks and loading racks on the Brooks Subdivision Mile 168, here we would clear the main track, and there was a runaround track outside the gates that helped with the switching, we would get permission at the gate to enter and couple on to the cars on spot, we had left the empties we had brought from Alyth, and one of the runaround tracks, we could then pull all the loads into the clear runaround track, and then couple onto our empties and go back inside and spot up the cars on the loading racks, we would take our lunch break in our caboose, and when we had finished our work, we would call the Brooks sub train dispatcher on a trackside phone by the main track switch, if there was no traffic, he would give us a written authority to occupy the main track, we would back out onto the mainline, and go westward towards Alyth, we would then call the operator at 12th Street Ethan we were returning to Alyth, he would then call The Pulldown Tower Supervisor for a route into the yard and where he wanted our cars, most of the time, we would pull our cars into a classification yard track we were the various and had priority, we would get permission from the Train Yard Coordinator to come out of the class yard track, and we would go out through a clear track and to the shop track. The hump would pull the various track back over the Hill and the cars would be classified and be on their way to their destination.

On December 23, 1978 I worked the 08:00 Hump with units 8635-4460-8409 , with locomotive engineer Paul Panko as my instructor, I knew Paul as he lived out in Ogden near where I lived, his hobby was mechanics and he collected Studebaker’s, he had a big yard near Shepard, where he stored all his Studebaker’s. Paul was a big man, very and enjoyed smoking cigars, he had some quirks, he would never buy any General Motors cars, as he blamed them for bringing out the diesel electric locomotives, that caused Paul to lose his job as a locomotive fireman.

I’ve been took a break for the Christmas holidays. It was nice to have some time off with the family.

I returned to work on boxing day December 26, 1978, and worked the 22:30 Pulldown with locomotives 8100-8423 a DS-12a and a DRS-15c, my locomotive instructor was Bill Kercher. He was a good-natured guy who I have worked with on the Zone 3 Wayfreight. There were three assignments at the Pulldown Tower on each shift on nights, there was the 22:30, 23:00, and the 23:59, so working the early job you had your pick of the locomotives working there. The 23:59 Pulldown had to take what was left, and a lot of times they would have two DRS-15 locomotives that had very limited visibility around this very busy part of the Alyth yard. We would get our list, and we would have to tie up 3 to 4 tracks in the classification yard. This involved going into each track, guided by the engine follower, when coupled on, we would stretch out the cars looking for breaks where the cars failed to couple together, the senior yardman the long field man would be further up the track, looking for breaks and when the cars were all coupled together, we would go to the next track until we had them all coupled together. We would then start doubling the tracks together, and pull out of the class yard, by a route given to us by the pulldown supervisor and we would shove the cars into a clear track in N-yard, P-yard and V-yard, and securing it with eight handbrakes on the east end. This would be a train ready to leave the yard after the Carmen had inspected it, a caboose would be added and the crew would be called. We would then have a coffee break, and do a second list; we would then take our lunch break (beans) and then do a third list. When finished, we would put our locomotives on to the shop track, and call it a night.

On December 27, 1978 I worked 23:59 Industrial Tramp at the Industrial Yard Office with locomotive 6713 and locomotive engineer Ivan Miller as my instructor, this job would go to Alyth, and bring back transfers of city cars from C-48. In the classification yard, we would switch them out, and place them into their destination tracks in I-yard, G-yard, and F-yard. We would also spot cars on the fast forwarder warehouses like B-14 Howell up at 14th Street West on B alley, and another customer at EX-4 and EX-4a on the south side across from the Industrial Yard Office, one of our last moves for the shift would be to go down to the Alyth Diesel Shop and bring up the fueled and serviced Dayliner and spot it on the east end of Depot 3 for the morning North Passenger train to South Edmonton.

On December 28, 1978 I worked the 23:00 N. Industrial with locomotive 6713, and locomotive engineer Grant Cunningham as my instructor. Grant was another locomotive engineer that I had worked with on the Zone 3 Wayfreight, and we got along good. Grant had been a motorcycle dispatch rider during World War II, it had injured his hearing so he would have to turn on the cab lights so he could read your lips when you were talking to him. The job involved coming off the shop track and switching out our caboose, and getting the operator at 12th Street E to cross us over from the east end of F-yard to the east end of I-yard, here we would kick our caboose up G-yard lead, and we would switch out the cars we needed from G-1 and G-3, with our cars all coupled together, he would connect all the air hoses, and do a brake test, as there were no carmen working the night shift. We would then call up the operator at 12th Street E. that we wanted to go from the east end of I-yard straight North, when we got a signal we proceeded northward to Mile 2 of the Red Deer Subdivision there, we would shove our caboose, and cars through the tunnel underneath Deerfoot Trail and line normal the switch point derail switch, and up the hill to M-10, and M-10a Johnson’s Trucking Terminal warehouse, there was a length of straight track outside the gate of the warehouse. We would set our caboose there and go into the warehouse yard with our cars, the two tracks inside the yard and side-by-side and cars could be loaded and unloaded into the warehouse on both tracks, we would check all the cars to make sure there were no dock plates left in, and we would pull the tracks and set over all the cars listed to pull on to the caboose, we would then go back inside the yard and spot the cars we had brought with us into the two tracks. With this finished, we would go back down the hill, relining the switch point derail to the derailing position, we would then call up the operator at the 12th Street E. and ask for permission to enter the main track. We would then pull out and shove our empties and caboose back to the east end of F-yard where we would put our empties into the track that the preference was being built. We would then put our caboose away into the caboose track, and place our locomotive on to the shop track and call it a night.

My last shift for the year was on December 29, 1978 working the 22:30 Pusher assignment with locomotive 8416 with locomotive engineer George Rose as my instructor. This job was very straightforward, the yard foreman would call the Train Yard Coordinator and find out what track it was going to hump next, tonight it would be track P-4, we would then couple onto the east end. The yard crew would release all the handbrakes, and we would wait for the 22:30 Hump to tie on to the west end of the track. When the hump engines had coupled on to the train, we give them permission by radio to stretch out the track and see that it was altogether. When we started moving westward, I would release the independent brake and hump units would pull us out of the track on to the hump lead. Our yard foreman using the radio would let the engineer on the hump locomotives how many cars to go clear the crossover, I would put about 10 pounds pressure on the independent brake (engine brake) to keep the train stretched out, and to avoid the slack running in as we came to a stop. The operator at 12th Street E. would restore the crossover switches to normal, and we would be lined for Hump Lead No. 1. We were stopped underneath the Blackfoot Trail overpass, and 60 car lengths to where we would have to stop. The yardmen from the hump crew had watched our train pull out of P-4, and would stop us if we found any defects like handbrakes applied, or cars that were not bled off. The yard foreman would tell the hump engineer that the crossover was lined normal and we were good for 40 cars to a stop. There were switch point derail’s where the two hump leads conjoined, in our case it was lined for Hump Lead No. 2, our yard foreman would call the Train Yard Coordinator to line the derail switches for Hump Lead No. 1, we could see visually the derail switches lined for our route and our foreman would give the hump engineer another 40 cars to the stop sign west of the hump. When we came to the stop one of the yardmen would uncouple our locomotive, and I would run it up to the crest of the hump, and we would wait for instructions from the Train Yard Coordinator, Tonight he asked us to trim two tracks in the classification yard C-14 and C-37, this would involve pushing cars down that had stalled in their tracks. We then went through a crossover out of C-48 and set our locomotive, in one of the tracks in little N-yard. We would then go into the yard men’s lunchroom on the main floor of the General Yard Office for our coffee break. When the 23:59 hump crew arrived for their shift, we were told that we would be humping N-11 next. We would do this train, and the TYC told us to go out through the crossovers on C-1, as the next train was in V-yard, in this case we would be doing a double over of two tracks, V-4 V-6 with the 22:30 Hump crew, we would tie on to the east end of V-4 and release the handbrake’s, when the 22:30 Hump tied on to the west end, we would give them the okay to stretch out the track, when the cars were moving, we would uncouple from the train and tie on to the east end of V-6. The helper on the hump crew would couple V-4 to the west end of V-6, when we had finished releasing the handbrake’s on the east end of the track. We would get the hump crew to make the stretch and we would pull out through the middle crossovers on to Hump Lead No. 1. We would do two more trains and then take our lunch break, and do our last train of the shift with the 23:59 Hump assignment, then put our locomotive on the shop track at the Pulldown tower.


1.) A photo of me working one of my last shifts as a Car Retarder Operator, this was taken by locomotive engineer Dennis Garrett, who was working the 08:00 Hump.

2.) Photos taken on my first trip North on the Red Deer Subdivision, the Red Deer Station front, side looking westward.

3.) Photo of the Buffalo Hotel across the street from the station where we had rooms to stay in overnight.

4.) Photo of the Red Deer yard looking southward.

5.) Photo of the North Dayliner No. 9106 on its station stop in Red Deer to pick up train orders and passengers.

6.) Photos taken on my first trip West on the Laggan Subdivision as the head end brakeman on November 3, 1978, on Train No. 965, this view looks back at our train from my side of the locomotive, it is at Mile 16.6 to 16.9 where there is a curve with a permanent slow speed of 30 miles an hour.

7.) Going Westward approaching Ozada siding west of where we enter the mountains.

8.) Our lead locomotive CP 5789 taken at Banff Alberta, we are in the siding waiting for an eastbound train.

9.). Another view from Banff of our lead locomotive and CP 5576 our second locomotive.

10.) This view at Banff looks eastward and you can see by third unit which gives us 4500 hp to conquer the Rockies, also visible the Banff passenger train station.

11.) Westbound at about Mile 94 Castle Mountain is visible in this shot. It was renamed Mount Eisenhower after World War II

12.) Taking the siding at Eldon, the eastbound is waiting on the main track for us to clear, this subdivision is CTC and all the switches are controlled by the dispatcher in Calgary, in this high-altitude environment with lots of snow the track switches are hooked up to propane fired switch heaters to keep them from freezing up.

13.) This view is at the summit of the Great Divide at Stephen we have climbed upwards from Calgary at 3500 feet to the summit at 5280 feet traveling 122.2 miles the steepest part of our ascent was from Lake Louise at Mile 116.6 W. of the summit is British Columbia where we will descend 14 miles to Field at Mile 136.6 this steep downhill mountain grades some over 2.2% when the CPR was built in 1885 this was called the “Big Hill” with grades of over 4%, this was supposed to be temporary but it took them still 1908 to build a set of spiral tunnels through the mountains that reduced the mileage and grades by half.

14.) I took this photo on our trip home, this looks back at our train alongside Cathedral siding with Mount Stephen in the background.

15.) I took this photo outside we are in the siding at Eldon waiting for No. 1 The Canadian the westbound passenger to pass us.

16.) My “A” card that expires in three years on November 27, 1981, it is signed by our rules instructor locomotive engineer Lloyd Snowdon he was from Kamloops BC and was a great teacher of the rules looking at them from a locomotive engineers view.

17.) A set of hump units sitting at the Alyth diesel shops, 8634 is the lead unit followed by “B” unit 4462, with Diesel Road Switcher 8412 as the trailing in with its 4500 hp it is able to pull any train out of the yard, the only concerns would be a heavy train with bad weather conditions in this case the pusher engine is always there to assist. This is the locomotive consist I ran on my first student trip.

18.) Control stand on CP 8634 a hump lead unit. On the left is the radio control set with 8 frequencies, below it is the automatic brake stand. Next to it on the bottom is the brake booster switches, then the independent or engine brake that is in the applied position, behind me black brake handle is the engine bell control. Going up the right side is the air booster gauge, and above that is the rheostat that is used to dim or brighten the front or rear headlights. The black panel in the middle has the air brake gauges on top, under the gauges is an aluminum sign that says “THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE OPERATING SPEED OF THIS UNIT IS 65 MILES PER HOUR” the days of operating at that speed for this old war horse are over. Underneath are some alarm lights for ground relays, PC switch open, wheel slips, and engine shut down. At the bottom of the panel are 12 circuit breakers, these are for the headlights, classification lights, cab heaters and lights, and the most important are the generator field, fuel pump and engine run circuit breakers.

19.) A wide-angle photo of the cab showing the radio handset hanging on the whistle cord. This view shows all the windows in the cab, the ones in the middle that give better visibility were part of the renovations when the 3 units were modified at the Ogden shops, the front nose was chopped down. The right-hand side of the photo shows the aluminum pedestal that the engine reverser, throttle, and dynamic brake controls are located; above my work gloves is a control panel for the hump.

20.) Hump control panel with mode switches, buttons and speedometer.

21.) A better view of the aluminum pedestal, the reverse lever is just out of sight on the bottom, the chrome lever on the right-hand side is the throttle control and, on the left side is the lever for the dynamic brake, they are disconnected as there is no use for them in the yard. Besides the top of the window on the left side is a box that contains the cab signals for when the hump is in operation.

22.) Another good wide-angle photo of the locomotive cab.

23.) Two SW900 locomotives 6716 and 6714 sitting on the shop track at the Industrial Yard Office, note the yellow cast-iron re-railing frogs, hanging off the running boards above the front wheels of the locomotive. All locomotive are supplied with these, and they are very helpful for rerailing cars that have come off the track.

24.) Another look down the shop track.

25.) DRS-1200a 8100 the first of these locomotives that were built for yard and road service, it’s easy to tell the difference between the 6700s as they have only one exhaust stack while the 8100’s have two exhaust stacks.

26.) A view of the 12th Street E. Interlocking tower on a winter day this is an eastward view and from the main track P-1 there is a clear signal in front of the tower.

27.) A photo I took back in 1974 from the Blackfoot Trail overpass it shows the hump pulling out of N-11, to the right are the piggyback trailer ramps, and the large building in the background is the Burns Packing Plant.

28.) This view shows the hump pulling out of P-4 he will crossover underneath the overpass where I am standing, V-yard and P-yard on the right-hand side of the roadway and Hump lead 1 & 2 are on the left-hand side, you can see the middle crossovers out of V-yard in the foreground.

29.) No. 2833 the first CPR locomotive converted to oil burning to operate on the mainline passenger run between Winnipeg and Calgary, completed its first trip between Winnipeg and Calgary this morning. Seen here beside the oil burning locomotive are left to right A. A. Langdon of Calgary, Division Master Mechanic Gregor Grant, Calgary, District Master Mechanic; E.G. Bowie, of Winnipeg, Superintendent of Motive Power and Car Department at the Weston Shops of the CPR in Winnipeg, Jim Kirk 716 14th Street E. Engineer of the train; George Russell, Calgary, Road Foreman, who directed firing of the locomotive and Harold Sangster, 1006 8th Avenue E., Regular fireman.

30.) An aerial view of Keith yard there are three long tracks on the North side the first two are used for storing grain and potash in, track three is left clear as a siding. There are smaller tracks on the West end they run from 4 to 10 and I used to store cars for the No. 2 Switcher, and other cars left in storage waiting disposition. There are three tracks on the South side these are used for storing maintenance of way gang cars during the winter.

31.) This view was taken from the West end of Keith yard, looking westward you can see past the telephone pole a hill with a roadway running up, this is the Bearspaw gravel pit there is a track below it where they could load 30 cars with ballast for the CPR. Further to the left out of sight is the Calgary Power limited’s Bearspaw Hydroelectric Dam.




























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